Separatists celebrate Catalonia’s national day, call on government for referendum

Separatists celebrate Catalonia’s national day, call on government for referendum |

Catalonia’s separatist forces celebrated the region´s National Day on Monday with a call to exert maximum pressure on the Spanish government to adhere to their demands, including a referendum on self-determination.

Since the 1980s, Catalonia’s “Diada” has been commemorated every 11 September, celebrating the region’s rich history and culture. It is a celebration that separatist forces have used as a political banner for their demands for independence.

The political strength of Catalonia´s separatist parties became clear after the early general elections on 23 July, giving them the key to a possible future left-wing government in Spain.

The seven seats won by centre-liberal pro-independence Junts Per Catalunya (Together For Catalonia, JxCat) are crucial for the acting prime minister and Socialist candidate, Pedro Sánchez, to return to power for another four years, possibly in alliance with the left-wing platform Sumar.

The JxCat party, led by former Catalan regional prime minister Carles Puigdemont, on the run from Spanish justice in Belgium since 2017, has set several red lines to start negotiating with the Socialist party (PSOE/S&D) for a new investiture of Sánchez. These include an amnesty law and a referendum on self-determination.

Meanwhile, the leader of the centre-right Partido Popular (PP/EPP), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, announced on Monday a political offensive by his party against the hypothetical approval of an amnesty law, with the presentation of motions in the parliament and the country’s city councils, El País reported.

“No politician, councillor, deputy or senator is going to be able to hide his or her opinion”, the leader of Spain´s main opposition party stated.

The Partido Popular leader warned that his political formation would use “all the democratic instruments at its disposal” to oppose an amnesty law, including the High Court.

Amnesty is only a first step’

Catalonia’s regional president Pere Aragonès, of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia, ERC), confronted with JxCat, warned the government on Monday that an amnesty law is the “first step” towards paving the way for a referendum.

“The amnesty is not and will not be the end of anything. The amnesty is a necessary and indispensable step, the first step to open the way, because Catalonia has to decide and will freely decide its future in a referendum. We defend it in the street, in the institutions and negotiation”, he warned, EFE reported.

According to the latest polls, a slim majority of the 7.6 million Catalan citizens would reject independence despite the tone of pro-independence forces.

About 52% of Catalans would vote “no” today in a hypothetical independence referendum, compared to 42% who would vote in favour, According to data from the latest barometer of the Centre d’Estudis d’Opinió (CEO) of the Generalitat, El Periódico reported recently.

‘Position of strength’ of separatist forces

Aware of their key role on the Spanish political chessboard, JXCat and ERC spoke on Monday of their ability to shape Spain’s future government.

Laura Vilagrà of ERC, a formation that has supported Sánchez’s previous term in office, reiterated on Monday that an amnesty law for those involved in the serious events of October 2017 is the “starting point, not the endpoint”.

Dolors Feliu, the president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), a political organisation whose goal is the independence of the region, urged ERC and JXCat not to support any investiture (of Sánchez) “If it is not clearly to achieve independence”. “We are not afraid of the blockade”, she said.

“We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived, and there cannot be any negotiation that is not clear that it is for the independence of Catalonia”, Feliu stressed after making the traditional floral offering at the monument of the jurist and “conseller en cap” (old Barcelona’s highest authority) Rafael Casanova (1660-1743), a historical icon of the Catalan independence movement.

On the other hand, the cultural organisation Òmnium Cultural, created in 1961 to promote the Catalan language and culture, asked (in a message addressed above all to ERC and JXCat) that they be “at the height of the moment”.

“Amnesty is not an option, but a necessity”, said Xavier Antich, president of the organisation.

Conciliatory message from Madrid

Pedro Sánchez congratulated the Catalans on their “Diada” and sent a message urging all parties to look “to the future and continue to move forward” along the path of “understanding and coexistence”.

On his X account, Sánchez published a “post” in Spanish and Catalan, accompanied by an image of the “Senyera” (the regional flag of Catalonia, with a yellow background and red stripes).

(Fernando Heller |

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